ERIC Clearinghouse on Reading, English, and Communication
of Hispanic origin represent one of the largest minority groups in the United
States. For Hispanic students, success in school is a complex process, dependent
on both the actions of parents and teachers separately and also on their interactions
(Paratore et al. 1999).
purpose of this digest is to provide an overview of:
Hispanic parents encounter as they become involved in their children's literacy
that help Hispanic parents become more effective partners with their children
and their children's school,
that provide useful information for parents, teachers and administrators.
encountered by Hispanic parents
parents are frequently unaware of practices essential to helping their children
develop academic skills. They may be confused about what the school expects from
their children and feel uncertain about how to help their children. Several recent
studies address the effects of cultural differences, parents' lack of self-esteem,
and a host of misconceptions, discussed below.
Recent studies by Hughes et al. (1999), Kelty (1997), and Paratore
(1999) explore reasons why some Hispanic parents are hindered by low self-esteem.
They found that some parents have been unsuccessful in school, and therefore the
entire school experience causes anxiety. Some feel that because of the language
barrier, they are powerless to make a difference in their children's education.
And some view teachers as the experts and do not feel comfortable questioning
The process of acculturation, internalizing a host culture's identity,
is more acute for some immigrants than others. Lambourne and Zinn (1993) found
immigrant families may go through psychological adaptations such as culture shock
as they encounter a new culture. Kelty (1997) found that because the Hispanic
culture emphasizes obedience and respect for adult authority, many parents are
more likely to communicate with their children in a direct style than to engage
their curiosity by talking with them and reading to them. Consequently, the parents
fail to lay a strong foundation for building academic skills.
it is true that culture shock and low self-esteem play an important part in understanding
the problems Hispanic parents face, the literature suggest that many other factors
are also at work. Moles (1993) reported that in a recent national survey of teachers,
Hispanic parents' lack of interest and support was the most frequently cited educational
problem. However, according to Snow (1991) "·even children with nurturing
home literacy environments did poorly in reading if school practices were inadequate."
et al. (1999) found evidence suggesting that despite limited English proficiency,
low levels of education, and few economic resources, when parents were provided
opportunities to learn from and collaborate with teachers, all were willing and
able to do so consistently and effectively. Yet in some cases children still failed.
(1997) found evidence that Spanish speaking parents are com-fortable with parent
conferences, interactive workshops and, to an extent, home visits. These findings
contradict previous research indicat-ing that parent involvement programs do not
reach Hispanic parents.
and Lopez (1999) found the relationship between accultura-tion level and personal,
contextual, and involvement factors to be complex. They found that although less
acculturated Hispanic parents reported less knowledge about school activities
and more barriers to involvement, they had high levels of perceived efficacy relevant
to parent involvement, educational expectations and spousal support.
study by Paratore et al. (1999), conducted in conjunction with their Intergenerational
Literacy Project, found that in all the Latino families studied, the practice
of family literacy was in an important and integral part of family life long before
parents joined the project. These researchers concluded that "·looking
to family literacy interventions as the primary solution to the problems of school
failure for many Latino children is to dismiss the complexity of challenges they
face both inside and outside of school."
programs that have helped Hispanic parents
ESL teachers looked at parent involvement and culture traits of Hispanics to better
incorporate Hispanic families into the school system. The project helped teachers
realize that cultural differences effect the ways in which students and parents
react to the school system. (Rodgers and Lyon 1999)
(1998) reports that eighteen states, most with high rates of immigration, have
developed Newcomer Programs for students who are recent arrivals to the U.S. and
have limited English proficiency. Forty three percent of the programs offer classes
to orient parents to the United States and 63% offer adults ESL classes either
through the program or the school district.
of prekindergarten students in one public school in Texas received instructions
in developing a portfolio of their child's literacy development which reflected
literacy behavior at home.
parent/child workshop offers parents specific ways to help their children at home
and allows parents to be active participants in their children's education. (Williams
and Lundsteen 1997)
Intergenerational Literacy Project began in 1993 and is now in its sixth year.
This project is one component of a partnership between a local university and
an urban community where the majority of families are new immigrants to the United
States. The project has three goals:
provide opportunities for adults to read and respond to literacy materials of
provide a selection of books, strategies and ideas for adults to share with their
children in order to support their literacy learning;
provide a forum through which adults can share their family literacy experiences.
(Paratore et al. 1999)
FLAME (Family Literacy: Apprendiendo, Mejorando, Educando [Learning, Improving,
Educating]) is a family literacy program developed in 1989 by Rodriguez-Brown
and Shanahan to train parents in different strategies to help their children's
literacy learning at home. The objectives of this program are to (1) increase
the ability of Hispanic parents to provide literacy opportunities for their children;
(2) increase parents' ability to act as positive role models; (3) improve the
Hispanic parents' skills so that they can more effectively initiate, encourage,
support, and extend their children's literacy learning, and (4) increase and improve
relationships between Hispanic families and the schools. (Rodriguez-Brown et al.
a preschool parenting program in San Antonio that incorporates family culture
to achieve significant success with recent and second-generation Mexican-immigrant
families. The program targets low-income mothers with young children. Infants
and toddlers accompany their mothers to the program and are placed in day care
that provides developmental and educational activities. (Romo 1999)
for parents, teachers and administrators
Literacy Activities: Perceptions and Practices of Hispanic Parents of Children
with Learning Disabilities (Hughes et al. 1999) investigated Hispanic parents'
perceptions and practices with respect to home reading activities. Parents in
this study reported using a wide variety of reading activities on a regular basis,
but experienced frustration in helping their children at home.
Hispanic Parents in Improving Educational Opportunities for Their Children
(Sosa 1996) discusses logistical barriers such as time, money, safety and child
care; attitudinal barriers such as disagree-ments, dissatisfaction and communication
problems; and expectations barriers as forces which hinder involvement of migrant/immigrant
parents. This study provides alternative ways to involve these parents as well
as strategies to cultivate more successful experiences.
Home-School Connections: A Family Literacy Perspective on Improving Urban Schools
(Nistler and Maiers 1999) contributes an understanding of what constitutes family
literacy and discusses family literacy programs in terms of three very distinct
categories of approaches: Parent Involvement Programs, Intergenerational Programs,
and Research on Naturally Occurring Family Literacy programs.
Examination of Hispanic Parent Involvement in Early Childhood Programs (Kelty
1997) developed a bilingual survey to register the feelings of parents toward
involvement in their children's preschool and kindergarten and to determine the
unique needs of parents during interactions with the schools. The survey was tested
with 50 parents, and the results were tabulated to determine differences between
the feelings of Hispanic and non-Hispanic parents.
Mothers' Involvement in their Children's Schooling: The Role of Maternal Education
and Acculturation (Moreno and Lopez 1999) investigated the influence of language
proficiency and family socio-economic status on Latina mothers' involvement in
their children's schooling. This study specifically investigated the influence
of sociocultural factors on (1) personal and psychological factors, (2) contextual
factors, and (3) levels of involvement.
M. T. Schumm, J.S., Vaughn, S. (1999). Home literacy activities: perceptions and
practices of Hispanic parents of children with learning disabilities. In Learning
Disabilities Quarterly 22 (3), 224-35.
J. M. (1997). An examination of Hispanic parent involvement in early childhood
K., and Zinn, M. B. (1993). Education, Race, and Family: Issues for the 1990s.
East Lansing, MI : Julian Samora Research Institute, Michigan State University
(1993) Collaboration between schools and disadvantaged parents. In.F. Chavkin
(Ed.), Families and schools in a pluralistic society (pp. 21-53). Albany, NY:
State University of New York Press.
R. P. and Lopez, J. A. (l999). Latina mothers' involvement in their children's
schooling: The role of maternal education and acculturation. Julian Samora Research
Institute. Working Paper Series. http://jsri.msu.edu/RandS/research/wps/wp44.html
R.J. and Maiers, A. (1999). Exploring home-school connections: A family literacy
perspective on improving urban schools. In Education and Urban Society, 32 (1)
J.B., Melzi, G., & Krol-Sinclair, B. (1999). What should we expect of family
literacy? Experiences of Latino children whose parents participated in an Intergenerational
J., and Lyon, L. (1999). Hispanic families in our school: knowing the roots of
our growing branches.
F.V., Li,-Ran-Fen, Albom, J.B. (1999). Hispanic parents' awareness and use of
literacy-rich environments at home and in the community. In Education and Urban
Society, 32 (1) 41-58.
H. (1999). Reaching out: best practices for educating Mexican- origin children
and youth. ERIC Clearinghouse on Rural Education and Small Schools, Charleston,
D.J. (1998). Secondary newcomer program: helping recent immigrants prepare for
school success. ERIC Clearinghouse on Language and Linguistics: Center for Applied
C.E., Barnes, W.S., Chandler, J., Goodman, I.R., & Hemphill, L. (1991) Unfilfilled
expectations: Home and school influences on literacy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University
A.S. (1996) Involving Hispanic parents in improving educational opportunities
for their children. The University of Texas at San Antonio http://www.ncbe.gwu.edu/pathways/newimmigrant/parents.htm
P., and Lundsteen, S.W. (1997). Home literacy portfolios: cooperative tools for
assessing parents' involvement in their prekindergarten child's literacy development.
publication was prepared (Digest #158, EDO-CS-00-09, December 2000) with funding
from the U.S. Department of Education under contract number ED-99-CO-0028, and
published by the ERIC Clearinghouse on Reading, English and Communication.
expressed in this report do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies
of Learn2study, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations
imply endorsement by Learn2study.